Brazil were made to work for their 2-0 victory over Mexico at the Samara Arena on Monday to book a place in the World Cup quarter-finals.
Brazil 2 Mexico 0
Ochoa pulls off a string of fine saves
Neymar (51′) converts cross from Willian
Alisson tips over curler from Vela
Firmino (88′) taps home from close range
Both teams were solid at the back in the first half, but Tite’s side began to find openings after the restart and made the breakthrough in the 51st minute when Neymar converted Willian’s cross from close range.
The Paris Saint-Germain forward then turned provider for Roberto Firmino to score with a tap-in on 88 minutes to secure their passage into the last eight.
Mexico looked to put pressure on Brazil in the early stages, but it was the South Americans who created the first chance on five minutes.
After being fed by Casemiro at the top of the D, Neymar got off a firm strike that Guillermo Ochoa was forced to push away.
Juan Carlos Osorio’s troops were well organised, though, and limited the opposition’s chances in the first half, with Neymar managing to test Ochoa again on 25 minutes from an angle on the left after he skinned two players with a sharp turn on the edge of the area.
Philippe Coutinho had a sniff at goal two minutes later when he blasted over from just inside the box after Neymar laid the ball off for him, while El Tri threatened for the first time on the half-hour mark as Carlos Vela sliced a shot high and wide of the near post from 18 yards out on the left.
The Brazilians were keeping them quiet, however, by largely nullifying their counter-attacking style. Back up the other end, Gabriel Jesus produced another good save out of Ochoa on 33 minutes with a left-footed strike from six yards out on the left, having been set up by Willian’s backheel on the edge of the area.
Neymar was presented with another chance five minutes before half-time with a free-kick from 25 yards out on the left that he curled wide of the near post.
Ochoa was quickly into the action again in the third minute of second half as he parried away Coutinho’s fierce shot from 16 yards out following a strong run from the Barcelona midfielder.
Jesus Gallardo then wasted a good opportunity for the Mexicans two minutes later when he gathered a cleared corner from his defence on the halfway line and advanced towards goal with support on either flank, but decided to let loose and curled wide of the left post from 22 yards out.
They were instantly made to pay as the Canarinho broke the deadlock on 51 minutes. Willian was the creator as he broke into the area on the left and fizzed in a low cross that was converted on the slide by Neymar at the back post.
Ochoa kept the North Americans in the tie with another fine save on 59 minutes, tipping over Paulinho’s first-time shot from 14 yards out when he ran onto Fagner’s cutback from the right.
Alisson was finally given some work to do two minutes when a breakaway from Mexico saw Vela curl an effort towards goal from 19 yards out on the right that had to be tipped over the bar.
Willian was having a major impact in the second half and he went close on 63 minutes as he advanced into the box from the right before drawing a smart save out of Ochoa with a venomous shot.
Neymar wasn’t far away from doubling Brazil’s lead five minutes later with a shot that deflected off Carlos Salcedo and rolled just wide of the left post following more good work from Willian.
Firmino sealed the win at the death having only come off the bench two minutes earlier. Neymar was released down the left flank and he carried the ball into the area before looking to poke an effort past Ochoa, who got a foot onto it and Firmino had the simple task of tapping home from two yards out.